THE Philippines will broach the possibility of opening direct flights to the United Arab Emirates from the Davao International Airport during bilateral air talks with the UAE this week, according to the Davao Tourism Association (DATA).
The bilateral air talks are being held in Cebu April 25 and 26 with the expectation of “obtaining the commitment the two biggest UAE airlines to launch a historic milestone: the first regular direct flights between the UAE and Davao International Airport,” the association said on Monday evening.
According to DATA, the talks will be attended by Philippine carriers and representatives of national government agencies and their UAE counterparts.
Currently, Arab carriers Emirates flies 18 weekly flights from Dubai to Manila while Etihad flies 17 times weekly from Abu Dhabi to Manila.
Philippine carriers Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific each fly daily frequencies to Dubai; additionally, PAL serves Abu Dhabi with three weekly flights. Both Philippine carriers also operate direct flights to Kuwait, Riyadh and Doha, while PAL additionally flies direct to Dammam and Jeddah.
In 2014, Emirates pursued applications to secure permanent increases in rights to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, after it cancelled its Dubai-Clark route due to “economic reasons.”
However, NAIA is bogged down by airport congestion resulting in flight delays, and there have been suggestions to build a new international gateway at Sangley Airport in Cavite and possibly the third runway for NAIA.
“The stage is thus set for the new DOTr [Department of Transportation] Secretary, Arthur Tugade, to prove that the Duterte administration can do better by engineering a landmark deal in the air talks next week that ensures the opening of new Davao-UAE air links through firm commitments and tangible results, without further worsening the NAIA congestion problems by conceding additional entitlements for Manila flights,” Gatchi Gatchalian, president of DATA, said in a statement last week.